Book Reviews

Adult Fantasy to End 2023

If you’re looking for an adult fantasy to fall into at the end of 2023, look no further. All books I read for panels are featured today. It’s been such a joy to organize these debut and themed panels and so I’m glad to be featuring mini reviews of Jackal, The Day Death Stopped, The Thick and the Lean, Preset, and Marked for Grace.

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

Jackal by Erin E. Adams

It’s watching.

Liz Rocher is coming home . . . reluctantly. As a Black woman, Liz doesn’t exactly have fond memories of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town. But her best friend is getting married, so she braces herself for a weekend of awkward and passive-aggressive reunions. Liz has grown, though; she can handle whatever awaits her. But on the day of the wedding, somewhere between dancing and dessert, the bride’s daughter, Caroline, goes missing—and the only thing left behind is a piece of white fabric covered in blood.

It’s taking.

As a frantic search begins, with the police combing the trees for Caroline, Liz is the only one who notices a pattern: a summer night. A missing girl. A party in the woods. She’s seen this before. Keisha Woodson, the only other Black girl in school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart missing. Liz shudders at the thought that it could have been her, and now, with Caroline missing, it can’t be a coincidence. As Liz starts to dig through the town’s history, she uncovers a horrifying secret about the place she once called home. Children have been going missing in these woods for years. All of them Black. All of them girls.

It’s your turn.

With the evil in the forest creeping closer, Liz knows what she must do: find Caroline, or be entirely consumed by the darkness.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Jackal is one of my favorite books I read this year. It’s horror meets a look at racism in the United States, and classism in a small town. We love a good monster thriller. What begins as a story which broke my heart with how a kid begins to learn the racism of the world, the ways she is different. All the loss of life where your life changes in a moment. But then it evolved into horror and admiration at the world Adams has created. This is a searing look at the monstrosity of racism.

It’s a book committed to the past, to memory. To looking at the pieces of history the world seeks to cover up. Jackal combines the dangers and eeriness of everyday with the supernatural-esque horror. Small towns and gossip mills. Jackal testifies to the truth in stories. To the ideas of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ ones with a hint of unreliability and suspense. Find Jackal on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

The Day Death Stopped by Rebecca Thorne

An out-of-control spell isn’t her problem.

Listen. Claire Bishop is Las Vegas’s greatest stage magician, and she’s perfectly happy with that fame. Ozarik is the next Zaro, the leader of the world’s witches, the modern-day Darcy everyone swoons over. Just because Claire shares a Zaro’s unfathomable magic doesn’t mean she shares the responsibility.

So, if Ozarik wants to make himself a villain by casting an ultra-dangerous spell to stop death on Earth “for her,” to “protect her,” that sounds like a him-problem. Claire has a show in four hours. Skipping it to save the world might give her manager a heart attack.

Ozarik may be her friend, but it sounds like a lot of work.

Ugh. Fine.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

If you’ve been looking for a book that gives you Good Omens vibes this is for you. The Day Death Stopped has that similar wry humor and world view. The kind where there’s sarcasm and wisdom mixed in one. The Day Death Stopped manages this vibe with characters who aren’t afraid to poke holes at the worst times and also footnotes! It’s a book that asks us about power and motivations. About well placed intentions in the wrong place. All the ways people can fail us and whether we can find it in our heart to rise up anyway.

The Day Death Stopped forces its characters to ask us about our motivation. About the power that lies in our hands and what we do with it. Thorne isn’t afraid of having the characters locked in a room with their worst mistakes and fears. It’s power on subtle and grandiose levels. And when we have something no one else does, something unprecedented, who can correct us? What wrongs will we commit for the ‘greater good’? Find The Day Death Stopped on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

The Thick and the Lean by Chana Porter

In the quaint religious town of Seagate, abstaining from food brings one closer to God.

But Beatrice Bolano is hungry. She craves the forbidden: butter, flambé, marzipan. As Seagate takes increasingly extreme measures to regulate every calorie its citizens consume, Beatrice must make a choice: give up her secret passion for cooking or leave the only community she has known.

Elsewhere, Reiko Rimando has left her modest roots for a college tech scholarship in the big city. A flawless student, she is set up for success…until her school pulls her funding, leaving her to face either a mountain of debt or a humiliating return home. But Reiko is done being at the mercy of the system. She forges a third path—outside of the law.

With the guidance of a mysterious cookbook written by a kitchen maid centuries ago, Beatrice and Reiko each grasp for a life of freedom—something more easily imagined than achieved in a world dominated by catastrophic corporate greed.

A startling fable of the entwined perils of capitalism, body politics, and the stigmas women face for appetites of every kind, Chana Porter’s profound new novel explores the reclamation of pleasure as a revolutionary act.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Thick and the Lean is a dystopian take on eating, femininity, and bodies. It’s about the ways that we try to control appetite, desire, women’s roles and bodily pleasure. With connections from thinness and abstinence of food tied to goodliness, The Thick and the Lean talks about nourishment and pleasure. About the idea that we are what we eat. From a granular level it examines our choices to eat, but also our choice to experience pleasure and what pleasure is valuable.

In a community centered around control, penance, and a world where we’re always shrinking, taking up space is rebellion. The idea that we would not only want to live on the bare minimum, but to always embody the experience of eating. With multiple MCs, The Thick and the Lean also examines a world where everyone borrows on the future in the present. It’s multi-layered examination of desires and the subjectivity of rebellion. The memories food can hold. All the ways food can transport us and nourish more than our bodies. Find The Thick and the Lean on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

Preset by Sarina Dahlan

Much has changed in the world and their relationship, but there are some truths that have yet to come to light. Fighting for change yet still loving her husband Eli, the scientist Eleanor travels to Elara, the lone city resisting fully bending to Eli’s control. There she must separate reality from lies, memories from desires, as she tries to piece together the truth about what is happening in the Four Cities. But the gulf between love and freedom, between the past and the now, between what we remember and what we strive to become can be as vast as the break between two hearts bound together. It is here, in the dark fissure left by loss, where Eleanor discovers the true cost that has been paid to save humanity.


Preset, Dahlan’s prequel to Reset, is about love, memory, and resistance. It’s deeply devoted to discussing what will tip the scales. If we have everything, what would it take for us to turn? Would it be the shattering of the illusion of what we have? Would it be the secrets in our other options? Preset took me back to the dystopian days full of medical experimentation, ethics for the ‘greater good’, and control in the face of danger.

When we have to chose between the fate of humanity versus human life – what would you do? I think that this question is the age old question we see everyone grappling with from superheroes to hobbits. Preset explores what would happen for us to go from one side to the other. It’s deeply dystopian especially leaning into the idea that not everyone is without secrets. Preset asks us the connections between love, control, and fear. Find Preset on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

Marked for Grace by K.C. Harper

As an untrained soul seer, Grace Crawford has not a damn clue what they want. But she’s about to find out.

When she finds a mark on the dead that kills the living, her quest to stop whoever unleashed it pivots to the half-demon Gideon. She’s got her eye on him, and he’s got his on her too—every inch of her.

As the mark haunts humanity’s steps and the death tolls climb, Grace realizes she’s in way over her head. But the lines between good and evil are blurred and figuring out who to trust is hard as hell seeing as God is capable of wrath and Satan was once an angel.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Marked for Grace is a must read for all paranormal romance readers. As someone who grew up on this subgenre, it took me back! With angels, demons, and supernatural beyond that, Marked for Grace is like a Chosen One meets Greys Anatomy meets supernatural. Stuck between sides Grace has to figure out if we trust beautiful lies or tantalizing truths. If we can be swayed and who is really telling us the truth. Find Marked for Grace on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What is your last adult fantasy read of 2023?

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